Oman’s moody, jagged mountains, vast untamed desert and rugged coastline inspire adventure. From shark diving to mountain biking, Jade Bremner enjoys some of the best thrills Zighy Bay has to offer.
Thrill factor: Otherworldly.
This is, without a doubt, one of my most daring exploits in Oman. The seasonal water channels, sloping walls of the Hajar Mountain fjords and an abundance of coral life has created a hotspot for reef sharks, large rays, turtles, and whale sharks. Divers spend a lifetime trying to spot the latter, the planet’s biggest fish, but luckily for me, whale sharks congregate in the Musandam area to feed every summer. The brave can swim alongside these ginormous beasts, which are the size of double-decker buses.
Top tip: Swap your tank for a snorkel to increase your chance of spotting whale sharks. The sharks are known to be scared by the air bubbles from a diver’s regulator and are likely to disappear. Snorkellers often spot sharks more easily, and can get closer. Dive sites to head for include: Dibba Rock, Snoopy Island, Leema Rock, Pearl Island, Ras Marovi, Cape II, Octopus Rock and Khor Hablane.
Cost: Dive trips start from £70 per day, including accommodation and transport. Snorkelling starts from £30 per day, including equipment.
Thrill factor: Belly-flipping.
If you like making a grand entrance, swoop into the Six Senses Zighy Bay Hotel like a bird by paragliding up to dizzying heights of 800m (2,625ft) before making a soft, sandy landing on the beach below. Strapped to my instructor, I soar over traditional villages, rugged mountain faces and the glistening ocean resort, feeling like James Bond. My tandem flight starts with an heart-racing, 4×4 ride from the hotel, as I hurtle along dirt paths, snaking up the mountain to an area dubbed ‘The Norway of Arabia’. This is one of the only places in Oman suitable for paragliding.
Top tip: If you’re looking for the ultimate rush, ask your instructor to loop the loop and feel your adrenaline kick in as you hurtle towards the ground.
Cost: A tandem flight starts from £100 (plus tax). Room start from £293 for a pool villa per night.
Thrill factor: Goose pimple inducing.
Gentle waters and year-round sunshine offer calm conditions for kayakers. Die-hard, endurance paddlers may prefer to do a 145km (90 miles) mammoth paddle around the Peninsular, while explorers who prefer a more sedate tour may want to venture into caves or stop at secluded villages, islands and beaches. I opted for the latter; the scenery itself is breathtaking enough, but we also spot dolphins jumping playfully beside our kayaks – a truly incredible experience.
Top tip: Look out for nature. In the shallower waters, it’s possible to see a variety of tropical fish, or camouflaged in the vista, desert foxes, birds and goats.
Cost: A six hour kayaking trip costs £100pp (minimum of two people).
Hiking and mountain biking
Thrill factor: Challenging and exhilarating.
Work up a sweat by climbing mountain paths to 1,908m-high (6,260ft) Jebel Harim, the tallest peak in the area offering beautiful views across the rugged landscape. Mountain bike tours to Khor Najd are also pretty special. I do the gruelling slog under scorching summer temperatures of 45°C (113°F).
In the cooler months, you have to watch out for frequent sand storms. As we push up and down challenging 30° slopes and uneven terrain, we shoot past historic stone houses and picturesque snippets of the Gulf of Oman in the distance through cracks in the rock face.
Top tip: En route, at Birkat al-Khalidiya National Park, look out for fossils dating back millions of years, and rare birds including pale rock sparrows, red-tailed wheatears and plain leaf-warblers.
Cost: A half-day guided tour costs £68 (minimum of two people), including equipment and refreshments.
Book: Musandam Sea Adventure Tourism. Tel: 2673 0424.
Thrill factor: Adrenaline central.
Ever tried to pull a steam train in the opposite direction? Fishermen in this area claim this is what it feels like when a 65kg (143lbs) giant trevally fish hooks on to your line. Seafarers have invaded these waters for over 5,000 years to seek the treasures lurking beneath the surface.
We attempt to reel in super-sized fish, such as long fin tuna, humour and dorado, big enough for a banquet, but it’s tough work. Expect to be fighting for up to half an hour in order to land one of these monsters – and if you get it wrong, they’ll end up pulling you in with them or, worse still, capsizing the boat.
Top tip: The biggest fish catch in the area weighed in at a whopping 67kg (148lbs). For fish this big, you’ll need a lot of bait (150g or more). If you land something larger, you’ll go down in local history.
Cost: £450 to charter a 12m (40ft) fishing vessel for four hours, including equipment and instruction.